A recently released memoir revealed new details about the former Director of the Nobel Institute and his regret for agreeing to hand over the famed Peace Prize to President Barack Obama during his first days in office.
Geir Lundestad, who directed the Nobel Institute for a quarter-century, said he hoped that the prize would sway Obama to seek a more peaceful world.
“In hindsight, we could say that the argument of giving Obama a helping hand was only partially correct,” he wrote in his memoir. “We thought it would strengthen Obama and it didn’t have this effect.”
Lundestad released his book Wednesday, titled, Fredens sekretær. 25 år med Nobelprisen, which translates as “Secretary of Peace. 25 years with the Nobel Prize,” according to TheLocal.No.
“No Nobel Peace Prize ever elicited more attention than the 2009 prize to Barack Obama,” Lundestad said of the momentous year.
In the memoir, Lundestad said that President Obama was caught off guard and “surprised” upon hearing that he had won the prestigious award.
“Even many of Obama’s supporters thought that the prize was a mistake. In that way, the committee did not achieve what it had hoped,” Lundestad admitted.
And President Obama’s advisors were uncomfortable with the fact that the award should be presented to him so early in his tenure, and hoped that the committee could find a replacement, the author wrote.
“His cabinet had already asked whether anyone had previously refused to travel to Oslo to receive the prize,” Lundestad wrote. “In broad strokes, the answer was no.”
President Obama said upon receiving the Peace Prize in Oslo in December, 2009:
I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.
Mr. Lundestad awarded other controversial figures with the Nobel Peace Prize during his tenure, including Yasser Arafat who, as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, led two separate terrorist uprisings against Israeli Jews.